Dolemite (1975)
By: David Michael Brown on August 1, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Dark Horse Entertainment (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 4:3. English DD 2.0. 89 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: D'Urville Martin
Starring: Rudy Ray Moore, Lady Reed, Jerry Jones
Screenplay: Jerry Jones, Rudy Ray Moore
Country: USA
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
Rudy Ray Moore, the jive talking, ass kicking self proclaimed mother fucker, made his name with a series of lightening fast stand up routines and foul mouthed comedy records. Quick witted he may be, but as an actor there is something sorely lacking. Add to that his obvious lack of ability at the ancient art of kung fu and his less than trim physic and its obvious that this is not your average action hero. The fact that he made over five movies may astound many but watching his most famous creation, Dolemite, it doesn't take long to see why he had audiences flocking to the theatres at the height of the blaxploitation fad, Rudy Ray Moore had mother fucking attitude.

Superfly may have had a plan to stick it to the man, and Shaft was the bad apple in NYC, but Dolemite was a different entity entirely. Fusing his comedy persona into a supposedly hard hitting thriller about a criminal trying to get on with his life after being released from the slammer, Moore became the antithesis of all the macho posturing of many films of the genre. Whatever film he was in, whatever character he played, he was always just the right side of ridiculous. Sure he wore the pimp clothes, spoke the lingo and wooed the women, but he was just completely unbelievable as a hard man. Much of that is due to the terrible fighting choreography which is embarrassing at best. Over half of the 'brutal' fight scenes feature punches so obviously pulled it looks like people just fall over whenever Dolemite is near them, let alone punching them. Moore may have been throwing the punches, but the actors opposite him are terrible, even the writer and director take a turn. It's even worse when they try and deliver scripted dialogue. The risible discourse is hilarious and the stilted delivery embarrassing.

This seeming diatribe may seem like an assassination but in the blaxploitation genre acting ability, sharply honed scripts and expertly choreographed action set pieces are a rarity. These films aren't going to win any Oscars but let's be fair, I'm sure the filmmakers weren't expecting any. The films are a snapshot of a time when film's played to specific audiences and the blaxploitation films played to packed houses in the black neighbourhoods of America. Dolemite's ass kicking female killer squad are fabulous collection of afros, bikini's and upper cuts aplenty and the film frequently gives Moore a chance to show off his vocal pyrotechnics, usually with an appreciative crowd laughing as he announces "Dolemite is my name and fucking up mother fuckers is my game!" His African themed stage show in particular is a kitsch delight.
Video
The 4:3 image varies frequently depending what lens is being used; grainy externals mix with television style interiors. The image is clear and easy to watch without any distortion when Dolemite's candy coloured wardrobe makes an appearance.
Audio
The stereo track is clear but not much else to be recommended.
Extra Features
The extras include a tour around the film's original shooting locations hosted by Rudy Ray Moore himself. There are no real revelations here and the image and sound quality doesn't help but the footage shows one thing, that the character of Dolemite is very close to the man himself. The jive talking attitude is real. You also get the theatrical trailer, delightfully full of uncensored bad language and a trivia quiz that reward you wit footage from the movie depending on your answer.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Thoroughly entertaining for all of the wrong reasons, Dolemite doesn't quite supply the bone-crushing, skull splitting, brain-blasting action it promises but it does give us the immense ego of Rudy Ray Moore. The dialogue is razor sharp and the man's self belief is sky high. He is the main reason for watching the film and more than makes up for many of its other deficiencies. Great fun for those who don't take their blaxploitation too seriously.

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